My "out of this world" bat mitzvah

Space Engine Planets and Galaxies by MassiveEffect.

My bat mitzvah party theme was outer space. Each of the tables were named after the nine planets in the solar system at the time: Mercury, Venus, Mars. When there got to be too many tables, we named the excess after planets from Star Wars: Hoth, Alderaan, Dagoba.

For my entrance, my mother had the party planner construct a rocket ship out of paper mache. It was huge and emblazoned with my name across the top. I was placed inside it, wearing the light blue astronaut’s jumpsuit I’d acquired at Space Camp that spring. Then, when the music stopped, I burst out of the spaceship, ready to party.

The party room itself had cardboard cutouts of Star Wars and Star Trek characters and for a few songs, my brother came out and danced around in a Chewbacca costume. I thought it was perfect. My classmates were a bit dumbfounded.

But aside from the party being so epically nerdy, the thing I remember most about my bat mitzvah was the lessons. I studied with the oldest and wisest person at our synagogue — a gentle soul we all called Reverend Goldenholz. Goldenholz was old for as long as I’d known him, which was almost 10 years at that point, but he was sharp as a whip, smart and funny. I found it a pleasure to learn with him once a week because aside from the lessons, he’d tell stories of his own Jewish life and ask me questions about mine. I also felt an obligation not to disappoint him — a missed note, a halted prayer, a flubbed Torah portion. He never judged or expressed anything negative, and so all the more, I wanted to make everything perfect for him.

I lucked out.

I had the sweetest, kindest, most patient bar mitzvah tutor, and parents who let me throw an outer space extravaganza for my party. I’m eternally grateful to them all.

Gaby Dunn is a writer, journalist and comedian in New York City. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Magazine and on and Her web project,, was named the Best Blog on Tumblr by the Village Voice in 2010. 

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How to cite this page

Dunn, Gaby. "My "out of this world" bat mitzvah." 16 November 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 11, 2020) <>.

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